Before I studied to be a dietitian I disdained the carrot, cheap nasty veggie filler, used too often in cheap food in my uninformed view. However as they say, knowledge is power, and I’ve had a bigger sheepish U-turn than David Cameron (they often use carrots in pasties too, you know, although this is less than traditional!) Carrots are full of fibre, and not too much of the gut fermentable stuff, so they are an excellent vegetable to choose. The main nutrient the carrot contains is beta carotene, the veggie Vitamin A, more available to the body if carrots are cooked, but they are also really nice grated raw, as crudities with low-fat dips. Carrots are also very good when cooked with cumin, thyme and coriander. Carrot juice also reduces the acidity of orange juice, making orange juice a less sharp drink, if you find its acidity a problem. Beta carotene is stored under the skin and converted to vitamin A (retinol) by the liver. Carrots are also suitable to have frozen as well as fresh, beta carotene is a fat soluble vitamin it is not easily leached during cooking or storage of the vegetable. Does eating carrots help you see in the dark? Well retinol is a required vitamin for vision, but most people do get adequate amounts, it helps you see better in the dark only if you are deficient in this vitamin, replenishing low stores will improve your vision. But it doesn’t improve it if you are eating enough, it is not exponential e.g. you do not get better and better vision if you eat more and more. Retinol is also needed for skin, teeth and to help your bones grow. Also a word of warning here – as with any food, variety is key to getting the range of nutrients your body needs – seriously overdosing on beta carotene – carrot juice or supplements, will turn you orange, carotenosis, although harmless and reversible on stopping consuming the offending item. 😉 Actually the lesson here is that there are no real ‘super’ foods eat a variety of foods to get what you need.
- Food Files: Carrots (optimizedindividuals.com)